Chocolate's what's up

This blog entry is, if nothing else, for myself to refer back to.

Here’s a list of chocolates used in baking, kind of in order from the least amount of cocoa liquor (which is cocoa beans that have been fermented, dried, roasted, then ground and pressed into a paste) to the highest amount of cocoa liquor content.

Through  researching the varying percents of cocoa liquor in different “types” of chocolate it is apparent that depending on the brand of chocolate it can have a wide range of cocoa liquor in it as well as varying amounts of added sugar. So, for example, one brand’s bittersweet bar, could be sweeter than another brands semisweet bar...

So I will base this off of Guittard and Baker's Chocolates-my favorites!

White Chocolate
Contains no cocoa liquor (but it does have cocoa butter), milk product, vanilla and lecithin Cocoa butter is created by separating the low-fat cocoa solids out of the cocoa liquor, leaving the high fat cocoa butter .

Milk Chocolate
A mixture of chocolate liquor, sugar and milk solids, which is why it has a creamier flavor than bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Guittard’s Milk Chocolate contains 38% cocoa liquor.

Baker’s German Chocolate
54% cocoa liquor, which is less than most semi-sweet chocolates

Guittard Semisweet
61%  cocoa liquor

Guittard Bittersweet
72% cocoa liquor

Pure chocolate liquor with no added sugar (used for home-made brownies and flourless chocolate cakes, yummm).

More questions about chocolate? Email me... I'm off to dream about the birthday cake cupcakes with cream filling and chocolate ganache frosting that I'm going to make Friday morning!


Boozy Fruit

It's not exactly baking, but it is definitely an adventure in the kitchen. It started, where so many great ideas do, with an article in the NY Times, A GOOD APPETITE: Spiking Summer Fruit in Order to Preserve It. And it will likely end with a few pretty tipsy people.

As I read the article I got increasingly excited to try this- something fun to do with liquor, great! A creative holiday gift idea, great! Ways to use boozified fruit in sinful desserts to get you through the harsh, bitter cold California winters- incredible. Hair of the Dog Muffins?! Upside Down Tipple Cake?! Yes, please.

Luckily it wasn't just me that thought that. Two days after emailing the article to my friend I got her to take the train after work into Berkeley from SF just to make some. At Berkeley Bowl West we picked up baskets of strawberries, yellow and white peaches,  a pineapple (we had just missed the last of the cherries for the season) and a few cinnamon sticks. Back at home, where I already had canning jars, brandy and rum, we set to work chopping and pouring.

Anyone can make this,  even if you swear you can't bake or cook, because there is no one specific way to do it and no exact measurements, just a few important guidelines. We looked at various recipes online and worked off of these two: Fruits preserved in alcohol (Cole, allrecipes.com) and Brandied Late Summer Fruit (Myers, culinate.com). And this is what we did:

Boozy Fruit

  • Canning jars
  • any summer fruit you want to preserve and enjoy (boozified) in winter- It must be ripe, ready-to-eat fruit
  • any liquor that is at least 80 proof- vodka, rum, brandy....
  • sugar
  • lemon (optional)
  • cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • vanilla beans, cloves, orange rinds (all optional)
If you have a fruit with skin like nectarines or peaches, get one pot of water boiling, and another pot filled with ice water. Place the fruit in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then plunge the fruit into the ice water. This allows the skin to slip off the fruit easily.

Chop your fruit into chunks.

Create a layer of fruit at the bottom of the jar, sprinkle with sugar, repeat until the jar is full or your out of fruit. Don't forget to put in any extra flavorings like a cinnamon stick, juice of a lemon and a couple of peels of lemon rind.

Pour the liquor into the jar until all of the fruit is covered, sprinkle a bit more sugar on top for good luck.

Seal the jar. Let sit for a couple of hours, or through the day. Turn the jar upside down a few times to redistribute any undissolved sugar. Place the jars in your fridge for one month.

And of course, you can make the fruit into anything from ice cream toppings to a tart. The flavored liquor is perfect for  fruit martinis and other creative cocktails. Cheers!